Pacific Northwest

April, 2012
Regional Report

Get Wintered-Over Plants Growing Again

Take wintered-over fuchsias and geraniums out of hiding. Cut them back (down to the rim of the container, if in a hanging basket). If they been planted in the same pot for a couple of years, lift them out of the container and repot with fresh soil, no need to change containers as long as the plant isn't root-bound. Feed with an organic, slow-release fertilizer.

Allow Bulb Foliage to Die Down Naturally

Resist the urge to cut down or tie up the foliage of tulips and daffodils after they have finished blooming. The bulbs extract and store the nutrients from the leaves for next year's growth and bloom, so by cutting back too soon you risk next year's flowers, and by tying them up you decrease their ability to photosynthesize and create the food they need to store. Unsightly for a time, perhaps, but once the leaves are at least halfway died back they can be trimmed.

Plant Summer Blooming Bulbs

It may seem early to think about summer, but summer blooming bulbs, corms and tubers can be planted now. Look for gladiolas, dahlias, iris, lilies, crocosmia, anemones and lily-of-the-valley and plant them as soon as possible.

Install Plant Supports

Put in plant stakes, peony cages, other supports now, while the plants are still small and manageable. I use green wire cages for peonies, tomatoes, and larger perennials because they disappear into the landscape more readily while keeping my plants standing tall.

Harden Off Those Seedlings

If you already have some early plants started from seed that you are ready to put out in the garden, be sure to harden them off in a cold frame, bright corner of an unheated basement or garage, or in a protected corner of the porch for a few days, first. Gradually getting them used to the temperature difference between indoors and outdoors is a key to their success.

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